Benji Kirkpatrick's Hendrix Project
20th February 2016
Benji Kirkpatrick, energetic bouzouki maestro and master of the flying leap taking centre stage with folk big band and BBC Radio 2 regulars, Bellowhead, has released a new solo album called ‘Hendrix songs’. The album marks 45 years since Hendrix’s untimely death and Benji reinterprets twelve of his classic tracks (including Voodoo Child, Angel, Foxy Lady and The Wind Cries Mary) adapting them for bouzouki, banjo and mandolin. Benji strips back the layers of electric guitar, the solos and the psychedelia to reveal the songs in their pure form and present them as lean, acoustic visions of Hendrix as a sensitive song-smith. Alongside the album release, Benji has previously performed a sixteen date, National tour with the project, which was funded by Arts Council England, during September and October 2015.
A lifetime time fan of Hendrix, Benji made a conscious decision not to play the guitar at all in this project:
“Well, Hendrix did that rather well! As a twelve year old, newly equipped with an electric guitar, I tried my best to imitate him. I soon realised it was futile – he was an absolute one-off and changed rock music completely with the natural fluidity and brilliance of his playing. This project is about exposing his skill as a songwriter, which I think is often overlooked.”
The live show, entitled ‘Bendrix’ will incorporate a first half of Benji’s own material, with the second half entirely dedicated to the Hendrix material.
Benji Kirkpatrick's Hendrix Project
Benji Kirkpatrick was born to folk luminaries John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris in the summer of 1976 whilst they were on a rare break from touring. This could have set the pattern for his future life - as a much sought after, busy musician Benji is constantly touring! Immersed in many genres of music through his roots he was always picking up different instruments and trying them on for size. However the arrival of an electric guitar in his life sealed his fate and Benji began listening to 50's Rock n' Roll, before moving via ZZ Top to Jimi Hendrix.
His song writing talent was acknowledged early when a song he penned for his first band The Hedgerows was featured on Evolving Tradition 1 (Mrs Casey Records) in 1995. This brought Benji to the notice of the wider industry and his debut solo album 'Dance In The Shadow' was released in 1998 on the Wildgoose label. The same year he co-formed a band called Dr Faustus, later to become merely Faustus, the other members being Paul Sartin and Saul Rose. His second solo album,'Half a Fruit Pie', was released, this time on the Fellside label in 2004.
That year also saw the birth of folk 'big band' Bellowhead with Benji as a founder member (the band are now playing out their final shows after announcing that they are to break up in 2016). Benji has also more recently formed a duo with singer Janie Mitchell. Of his three solo albums, ‘Boomerang’ (released 2008) saw Benji take a step away from traditional folk and featured only original material, receiving much critical acclaim as well as radio play.
Benji has worked extensively with Seth Lakeman and was a member of his band for three years and featured on his long players ‘Hearts and Minds’, ‘Freedom Fields’ and ‘Kitty Jay’. Benji has also toured and recorded with Maddy Prior (the voice of Steeleye Span) and the Oysterband. He is as happy performing on massive stages – such as at Hyde Park, Glastonbury and The Royal Festival Hall – as he is at intimate and quirky venues like the 12 Bar Club in London or Cornwall’s cliff top Minack Theatre.